June Movies

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Movies…I love them. They’ve played an important role in my life, providing inspiration and providing deeper life messages. And yet for two years, I rarely enjoyed watching them on the big screen.

I changed that during the month of June. I’m back at the movies and loving it. I enrolled in Regal Cinema’s Unlimited program. For $18 month, I can watch an unlimited number of movies. If I go twice during a month, I save money. This past month, I enjoyed SIX films at the local Regal Theater.

Here’s a brief review of each of the June movies that I saw…no spoilers.

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June Movies

I enjoyed quite a mix of films, from multi-universe fantasy to period piece to dinosaurs roaming present day earth to intense fighter pilot training to a music legend biopic. Four of the films were sequels. All touched me in some way, making laugh, jump, cry or walk away in deep thought.

Here are the June movies, each with brief synopsis and what I loved about it. I’m presenting them in the order that I saw them.

Downton Abbey A New Era

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leach, Laura Carmichael, Harry Hadden-Paton, Phyllis Logan, Robert James-Collier and Maggie Smith.

Rating/Length: PG, 2 hours, 4 minutes

Watch on Peacock, with a subscription.

Synopsis: In this second movie in the Downton Abbey franchise, based on the long running television series, part of the Crawley Family goes on an adventure to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa.

Meanwhile, back at Downton Abbey Lady Mary and the staff open the home to a film crew, filming the last of the silent movies. It’s not a smooth process for anyone and Lady Mary finds herself filling in when the silent film suddenly transitions into a “talkie”.

What I love about this movie: I watched the whole Downton Abbey series and the first movie and highly anticipated this sequel. Although there are many characters to keep track of and multiple story lines, I enjoyed the interaction between “upstairs” and “downstairs” and the mystery in this film, that is not solved until the end of the movie. Some of the characters had big moments as well, that I celebrated with them.

June Movies downton abbey
June Movies – Downton Abbey A New Era

Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez and Rachel McAdams.

Rating/Length: PG-13, 2 hours, six minutes

Watch Dr Strange on Prime Video.

Synopsis: Dr Strange teams up with a mysterious teenage girl who can travel across universes. Together they battle threats and encounter other versions of Dr Strange in other universes as they seek to prevent a new adversary from wiping out millions across the multiverse.

What I love about this movie: I’m a big Marvel Universe fan, watching the many films that make up this multifaceted franchise. And although multiverse films can be confusing, I found this one fast paced, fun to watch and easy to follow. I also enjoy thinking about the possibility of there being multiple universes.

June Movies dr strange
June Movies – Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Rating/Length: R, 2 hours, 19 minutes

Watch Everything on Prime Video.

Synopsis: With her business and marriage failing, Evelyn Wang struggles to cope with life. Even her relationships with her father and daughter are strained. On her way to meet with an IRS auditor, Evelyn inexplicably finds herself caught up in an insane journey, jumping into parallel realities through a multiverse rift. Through all the realities an evil person pursues her, threatening the existence of everyone.

What I loved about this movie: Talk about taking the multiverse theme to a new level! This film goes there, in an entertaining yet thought provoking way. I loved the growth that Evelyn experienced as a result of her crazy journey and the big aha at the end of the movie.

June Movies everything
June Movies – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Jurassic World Dominion

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Isabelle Sermon and DeWanda Wise.

Rating/Length: PG-13, 2 hours, 27 minutes

Currently playing at theaters.

Synopsis: This sequel takes place four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar. Dinosaurs now live…and hunt…alongside humans all over the world. This unstable balance is reshaping the future and may determine whether humans will remain the dominant species on earth.

What I loved about this movie: After seeing the other films in this series, I HAD to see this final installment. I love the dinosaurs and I enjoyed seeing the return of other cast members from earlier films. It all felt very nostalgic.

June Movies jurassic world
June Movies – Jurassic World Dominion

Top Gun: Maverick

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer and Jon Hamm.

Rating/Length: PG-13, 2 hours 10 minutes

Currently playing at theaters.

Synopsis: After 30+ years as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is doing what he loves best…pushing the envelope as a test pilot. An urgent situation brings him back to the US Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as Top Gun, where he must train a group of young pilots for an impossible mission. Among the trainees, the son of Maverick’s deceased best friend Goose.

What I loved about this movie: I enjoyed this intense, fast paced, edge of your seat film and in fact, liked it even better than the first Top Gun. Tom Cruise excels in the role of Maverick and it is very heart touching to see Val Kilmer reprise the role of Iceman. Kilmer is fighting throat cancer in real life and it’s very moving to see him in this movie. I highly recommend re-watching Top Gun before seeing Maverick.

June Movies maverick
June Movies – Top Gun Maverick

Elvis

Cast: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh and Helen Thomson.

Rating/Length: PG-13, 2 hours, 39 minutes

Currently playing at theaters.

Synopsis: This biopic follows the life of music legend Elvis Presley from his childhood to rock and roll stardom, during a time of great cultural shifts in the US. The story is told from the perspective of Elvis’ controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker, a complex relationship that spanned 20 years.

What I loved about this movie: Although I enjoyed all six of June movies, this one was the best. I did not consider myself a huge Elvis fan, however I am a big fan of the writer/producer of the film, Baz Luhrman. I appreciate the high energy way that he tells a story. And now, after seeing the film, I am also an Elvis fan. I learned things about the musician that I didn’t know and felt deeply moved by his story. The impact was so great that I sat through the credits, tears in my eyes, thinking big thoughts, and then immediately played the movie soundtrack via Amazon Music on my Echo Dot when I returned home. I’ll see this one again.

June Movies elvis
June Movies – Elvis

Have You Seen Any of These Films

That’s my round up of June Movies! I look forward to taking full advantage of my Regal Unlimited Card to watch movies all summer and share the lineup each month. It feels so good to be back front of the big screen again.

Have you seen any of these films? Which one was your favorite?

June Movies unlimited

 

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You might also enjoy this review of JoJo Rabbit.

 

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2022 Best Picture Nominated Films

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The Academy Awards air this month, on Sunday, March 27. As is my custom, I enjoy watching as many of the nominated movies as possible, plus the short films. Pre COVID, more opportunities existed to watch the films. My local theater brought in all of them for special viewings during Oscar Week.

However, for the second year in a row, that didn’t happen. Instead, for the first time ever, I caught all ten of the 2022 Best Picture Nominated films at home, on various streaming services.

It’s not necessary to see all of the films before Oscar night. But in my experience, it gives extra meaning to the award show plus I end up watching movies I wouldn’t otherwise.

Check out my brief, spoiler free summaries of each film and my prediction at the end of the post.

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Ten Movies Nominated for Best Picture

It’s a large group of films this year and they are extremely diverse, ranging from sci-fi to biographical to satire to off beat. I’m listing them in the order I watched them.

Dune

Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Screenplay written by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth, based on the novel by Frank Herbert. Directed by Denis Velleneuve. Nominated for 10 Oscars,

Stars Timothee Chalomet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Stellan Skarsgard.

Promoted as part one in a two part series, Dune tells a hero’s  journey story about a gifted young man born into a destiny beyond his imagination and understanding. He must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to guarantee the future of his people. The hostile desert planet contains an exclusive supply of a rare resource that has the ability to propel humanity to its greatest potential…if it is in the right hands.

Fun fact: Director Denis Villeneuve read the Dune novel at age 12 and saw the first adaptation in 1984. His lifelong dream to do a new adaptation came true after he did two other science fiction films, so he possessed sufficient experience for the project.

Dune is available to watch on HBOMax.

Don’t Look Up

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 18 minutes

Screenplay written by Adam McKay and David Sirota. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry and Timothee Chalamet.

This comedic drama…with sci-fi overtones…has been called satire at its best. Two unknown astronomers discover that an approaching comet is on a collision course with Earth. However, no one…from those in highest government positions to religious leaders to scientists…seems to care. The pair embark on a whirlwind media tour, trying to convince those with the power to make changes to do something before it’s too late. What does it take, to get people to look up?

Fun fact: Jennifer Lawrence filmed most of her scenes with a broken tooth. Due to COVID restrictions, she couldn’t get it fixed. In post production, the missing tooth was added in.

Don’t Look Up is available on Netflix.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films don't look up
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – Don’t Look Up

The Power of the Dog

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 6 minutes

Screenplay by Jane Campion, based on the novel by Thomas Savage. Directed by Jane Campion. Nominated for 12 Oscars.

Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Durnst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

In 1925 Montana, the Burbank brothers carry on the ranching legacy handed down to them by their parents. Phil is charismatic, cruel and manipulative while George does damage control in the wake of Phil’s brutality.  When George marries and brings a new wife and her teenage son to the ranch, Phil takes great pleasure in bullying both. However, when the abuse abruptly shifts to befriending the boy and teaching him about ranching, concerns grow even more. (Read a more in depth review HERE.)

Fun fact: To get into the character of Phil and stay there, Benedict Cumberbatch did not bathe for two weeks and adopted chain smoking. He did not speak to co-star Kirsten Dunst outside of filming.

The Power of the Dog is available on Netflix.

Nightmare Alley

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Screenplay by Guillermo del Torro and Kim Morgan, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham. Directed by Guillermo del Torro. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

Stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman and Mary Steenburgen.

An ambitious carnival worker with the ability to easily manipulate people, learns to perform as a mentalist. He hooks up with another performer named Molly, to develop their own two person act. They experience success on the road, until greed drives him to con a dangerous tycoon, with the help of a mysterious female psychiatrist.

Fun fact: COVID suspended production of the film after some of the scenes were shot. Bradley Cooper used that time to lose 15 pounds so as to appear younger for scenes at the beginning of the film.

Watch Nightmare Alley on Hulu and HBOMax.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films power of the dog
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 36 minutes

Screenplay written by Tony Kushner, based on the stage play and book by Arthur Laurents. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Nominated for 7 Oscars.

This adaptation of the 1957 musical stars Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno.

West Side Story explores the threats of two warring gangs and the city’s wrecking ball in a decaying neighborhood in Manhattan. While the two gangs fight for supremacy, an unexpected and forbidden love develops between one of the gang members…and the sister of the leader of the other gang.

Fun fact: In spite of the 60 year gap between adaptations, three actors who appeared in the original musical play different roles in this new film: Rita Moreno, Harvey Evans and David Bean. Sadly, David passed away two weeks after this film’s release.

Watch West Side Story on HBOMax.

Drive My Car

Unrated  Run time: 2 hours 59 minutes

Screenplay written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, based on the short story by Haruki Murakami. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

This Japanese film stars Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura and Reika Kirishima.

Two years after his wife’s unexpected death, a well known stage actor and director agrees to direct a production of Uncle Vanya at a theater festival in Hiroshima. The young woman assigned as his chauffeur helps him face his grief and confront painful truths from his past.

Fun fact: This film is also nominated for Best International Feature Film, at the Academy Awards.

Watch Drive My Car on HBOMax.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films drive my car
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – Drive My Car

Belfast

Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. Nominated for 7 Oscars.

Stars Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds.

Set in the 1960s, this historical drama tells the story of Buddy and his family as their working class neighborhood experiences increasing turbulence and violence. Nine year old Buddy does his best to understand “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland as friends and neighbors flee Belfast and his own family faces life altering decisions.

Fun fact: This film is based on the true events from Kenneth Branagh’s childhood.

Rent Belfast on Prime Video HERE. Start your FREE Amazon Prime trial.

King Richard

Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 24 minutes

Written by Zach Baylin. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. Nominated for 6 Oscars.

Stars Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton.

This biographical drama follows Richard Williams, father and tennis coach of Venus and Serena. Armed with a clear vision and a bold 78 page written plan, Richard is determined to write his daughters into history. His commitment, balanced by his wife’s grounded perspectives, defies the odds against his daughters as they pursue their dreams of being the best female tennis players in the world.

Fun fact: Saniyya, who portrays Venus, is left handed and had never played tennis before. She trained five days a week, followed a strict diet and exercise plan, and watched hours of Venus, who is right handed, playing in major tennis tournaments.

Rent King Richard on Amazon Prime HERE.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films king richard
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 13 minutes

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Nominated for 3 Oscars.

This romantic comedy stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman and Sean Penn.

In 1973 San Fernando Valley, 15 year old Gary meets Alana when she arrives to take photos at the high school. With a wide age gap between them, Gary and Alana form a friendship that takes them through various start up businesses and brief romantic relationships with others. However, is there more than friendship developing between them?

Fun fact: Alana Haim’s on screen family members are all played by her actual family members. The Haim sisters have a Grammy nominated rock band. Paul Thomas Anderson met the Haims when he was a young boy. This film is inspired by the crush he had on Donna Haim, the mother of the girls.

Purchase Licorice Pizza on Amazon Prime HERE.

CODA

Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 51 minutes

Screenplay written by Sian Heder, based on the previous motion picture “La Famille Belier”, written by Victoria Bedos, Stanislas Carre de Malberg, Eric Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain. Directed by Sian Heder. Nominated for 3 Oscars.

Stars Emilia Jones, Marlee Martin, Troy Kotsur, Eugenio Derbez and Daniel Durant.

Ruby is a CODA…Child of Deaf Adults. She is the only hearing person in her family of four. From early childhood, Ruby interprets for her parents in the hearing world while helping her dad in his business and helping her mother and brother communicate with the community. Ruby’s passion is music and singing. When she joins the high school choir, her teacher encourages her to apply for college, on a musical scholarship. How can Ruby share her love of singing with her family, when they have no place for music in their world? And how can she leave them and go away to college?

Fun fact: Ruby’s deaf father, mother and older brother are all played by deaf actors. Emilia, who played Ruby, spent nine months learning American sign language, taking singing lessons and learning how to operate a fishing trawler.

Watch CODA on Apple TV+

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2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – CODA

My Prediction

I think this was the most interesting group of best pictured nominated films ever. Often, in past years, I like one or two of the films and can barely watch others in the group, usually due to extreme violence. You perhaps noticed that many of this year’s films are rated PG-13. The captivation lies not in the shock value of these films but in powerful stories, clever satires and real life inspired tales.

I enjoyed all ten of these movies. Don’t Look Up made me laugh the most.  Drive My Car, at almost three hours long, appealed to me more and more as the story unfolded. And ironically, my favorites were the last three I watched. King Richard is inspiring. Licorice Pizza is so quirky. And CODA is an incredible film…funny, insightful and heart touching. It’s the movie I loved the most.

However, I’m selecting The Power of the Dog for the win on Oscar Night. It is such a layered, complex film with a gripping storyline that stays with the viewer for a while. The Academy loves such weighty films.

How many of the 2022 Best Picture nominated films have you seen? Do you have one you are cheering for on Oscar Night?

 

 

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2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films

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With the 94th Academy Awards airing on Sunday, March 27, we are deep in award season. I try to watch as many of the nominated films as possible, before Oscar night. For the third year in a row, my local indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema, offered showings of all of the Oscar nominated short films…live action, animated and documentary.

I enjoyed a day at Bookhouse, watching the shorts and savoring vegan food.

If you haven’t seen this year’s nominated shorts, no worries! I have you covered with a brief summary of each short. No spoilers. I also give my predictions on which shorts take home the Oscar.

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2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Live Action

The following five live action films received nominations:

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run

Country of origin: Switzerland

Writer and director: Maria Brendle

A young Zyrgyz woman named Sezim is kidnapped and forced to marry a man she’s never met. Sezim struggles with her desire to study at the university and pursue her own dreams and the loss of freedom dictated by the Kyrgyz culture she’s grown up in.

My thought: It’s shocking and eye opening that this practice still occurs for thousands of young women every year.

On My Mind

Country of origin: Denmark

Writer and director: Martin Strange-Hansen

In this gently humorous short, Henrik arrives at a bar shortly after it opens, with a strange yet urgent request. He must sing the song “Always On My Mind” while the sympathetic barkeeper films the performance. Although he’s reluctant to say why, it’s a matter of life, death and karaoke.

My thought: This short is sad, funny and sweet with a hint of the supernatural. I loved it a lot.

Please Hold

Country of origin: USA

Writers KD Davila and Omer Levin Menekse, diretor KD Davila

A young man’s life is inexplicably turned upside down when he’s arrested and jailed by an automated justice system. He knows he’s innocent…if he can just find an actual human to talk to.

My thought: This one made me think about our current justice system and where it’s heading.

The Dress

Country of origin: Poland

Writer and director: Tadeusz Lysiak

A lonely woman working in a dead end job in rural Poland feels hope when a truck driver shows interest in her. Before they meet up for drinks in four days, she must find the perfect dress to wear…and work through many conflicting emotions.

My thought: Ahhh…this short tugs at the heart, in painful ways.

The Long Goodbye

Country of origin: UK

Writers Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia, director Aneil Karia

A typical day for a close knit British Pakastani family goes horribly wrong when the chaos playing out on their television screen arrives at their own front door.

My thought: Wow. While it’s the shortest live action film, it packs the most powerful punch. I’m still thinking about this one.

Predicted Oscar winner: The Long Goodbye

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films - the long goodbye
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – The Long Goodbye

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Documentary

Not usually my favorite short category, this year’s documentaries all impressed me. I enjoyed watching each one and had a hard time picking a projected winner.

Audible

Country of origin: USA

Director: Matthew Ogens

Maryland School for the Deaf football player Amaree and his teammates attempt to preserve their years long winning streak while coming to terms with the tragic loss of a classmate and friend.

My thought: I loved this look at how Amaree and his teammates learn to thrive in the hearing world while creating their own unique ways of perceiving it.

Lead Me Home

Country of origin: USA

Directors: Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk

This documentary follows several people living on the streets of three West Coast cities. We not only learn their stories but see the challenges they face in changing their homeless situations.

My thought: I am still thinking about this documentary. My city is currently working to do something to help the homeless in my area and this doc shone a stark light on the growing epidemic.

The Queen of Basketball

Country of origin: USA

Director: Ben Proudfoot

Lucy Harris is one of the greatest living basketball players. She led her college team to three national trophies, scored the first basket in women’s basketball at the 1976 Olympics and received an invitation to play in the NBA.

My thought: This is a fun, heart warming documentary about an amazing woman who followed her dream.

Three Songs for Benazir

Country of origin: Afghanistan

Directors: Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

Shaista is a young man newly married to Benazir. The couple lives in a camp for displaced people in Kabul. Shaista struggles with wanting to be the first in his tribe to join the Afghan National Army and wanting to care for his growing family.

My thought: I appreciate this inside look at what life is like living in a displacement camp. People struggle with pursuing dreams and building security while simply trying to survive.

When We Were Bullies

Countries of origin: Germany and USA

Director: Jay Rosenblatt

A series of amazing synchronicities leads a documentary maker to track down his fifth grade class and teacher back in Brooklyn to examine a memory of a bullying incident the whole class took part in against one boy.

My thought: It’s so interesting to see what people remember about the bullying incident that they all took part in and how they react 60 years later. Plus I loved how Jay followed sychronicities to unravel the past.

Predicted Oscar Winner: I’m torn between Lead Me Home and When We Were Bullies…with the latter edging ahead for the win.

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films when we were bullies
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – When We Were Bullies

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated

Although animated, these shorts are not intended for children. In fact, three of the animated shorts came with warnings about nudity, violence and/or disturbing images. Like the live action and documentary shorts, these films look boldly at humanity in all of its conditions.

Affairs of the Art

Countries of origin: UK and Canada

Writer Les Mills, director Joanna Quinn

This quirky animation features Beryl, a female factory worker past her prime with strong artistic inclinations…and her lovable, eccentric family. Their obsessions range  from drawing to conspiracies to taxidermy.

My though: This humorous look at the eccentricities of artists is indeed quirky and beyond the edges! I laughed…and also cringed.

Bestia – Beast

Country of origin: Chile

Writers Hugo Cavarrubias and Martin Erazo, director Hugo Covarrubias

Ingrid works for the Chilean Intelligence Directorate in 1975. Her bizarre life, intertwined with relationships with her dog, her own body and her fears reveals a fractured mind and the atrocities that damaged a country.

My thought: This dark film is difficult to understand completely, without doing some additional research after viewing.

Boxballet

Country of origin: Russia

Writers Anton Dyakov and Andrey Vasilyev, director Anton Dyakov

Talented ballerina Olya encounters tough, rough boxer Evgeny, An incredible relationship begins between these two opposite personalities that goes beyond philosophies and perspectives.

My thought: There’s sweetness in this unexpected pairing.

Robin Robin

Country of origin: UK

Writers Daniel Ojari, Michael Please and Sam Morrison, directors Daniel Ojari and Michael Please

When an egg falls from its nest during a storm, a family of mice raise the baby robin that hatches as one of their own. This sweet tale follows Robin’s journey as she discovers who she really is and what she can do.

My thought: This is the only animation in the group that children could watch. It’s a heart warming tale of self discovery and family.

The Windshield Wiper

Country of origin: Spain

Writer and director, Alberto Mielgo

This film offers a beautiful collection of scenes featuring the complexities of love, after a man sitting in a café asks the greatest of questions, “What is love?” As the vignettes and situations show, it’s not an easy question to answer.

My thought: This animation made me smile. Not all of the situations portrayed are ideal and yet they showcase the many facets of love in today’s society.

Predicted Oscar winner: Although Robin, Robin is a sweet, feel good film, I’m going with The Windshield Wiper for the win.

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films the windshield wiper
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – The Windshield Wiper

See Which Short Film Wins at the Oscars

I so appreciate that Bookhouse Cinema brings in all of the shorts for viewing. I love these unique perspectives of life and humanity, as seen through the creativity of talented writers, directors, artists and film makers.

In between film sets, I enjoyed a vegan lunch, a vegan afternoon tea and a light, vegan dinner at Bookhouse’s pub. What a fun day for me, a film buff who looks for the deeper messages within those stories on the big screen.

I’ll update this post with the winners, after the Academy Awards airs. Watch for my upcoming Best Picture Nominations as well, with brief summaries of each film.

Have you seen any of the Oscar nominated short films?

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films bookhouse cinema
Bookhouse Cinema and Pub

Create your own at home Oscar Party with these Amazon finds:

 


 

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Being the Ricardos

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I grew up watching the wildly popular sitcom, “I Love Lucy”. If you are a child of the 50s or 60s, you are familiar with the half hour comedy that originally aired from 1951 until 1957. Although the series ran before my birth, it continued on in syndication for many, many years.

I Love Lucy captured the hearts of Americans, ranking as the most popular show on television for four of its six seasons. The series won five Emmy Awards including Best Situation Comedy and Best Actress for Lucille Ball.

Honestly, over the top comedy is not my favorite genre. And make no mistake…I Love Lucy was over the top, physical, slap stick style comedy. However, I watched it anyway, falling in love with Ricky from Cuba and his unpredictable wife, Lucy, who always seemed to land in a spot of trouble.

When I saw the previews for Being the Ricardos, I was instantly intrigued. Here is my movie review.

Being the Ricardos title meme

Being the Ricardos Cast

Being the Ricardos stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Madelyn Pugh and Jake Lacy. Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay and directed the biographical drama. This Amazon Studios film carries an R rating, for mild profanity, alcohol use and smoking, and has a run time of 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Oscar nominations were announced this morning. Being the Ricardos picked up three nominations: Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman and Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons.

Being the Ricardos at home
Being the Ricardos – early in their marriage

A Week with the Ricardos

The film unfolds in 1953, during a week in the lives of Desi Arnaz (Bardem) and Lucille Ball (Kidman). The successful couple faces challenges that could upend their careers and their marriage.

Lucy a Communist?

During the week time line in the film, the Los Angeles Herald-Express runs the shocking headline, “Lucille Ball was RED in 1936”. The story poses a real threat to Lucy’s career and Desi’s as well, through his association with her.

Lucy and Desi meet with the show’s producers and network executives, in an attempt to control the potential damage. Lucy did register to vote in 1936 and listed an affiliation with the Communist Party, primarily to appease her socialist grandfather. She supposedly never achieved active member status. And she appeared before the House’s Un-American Activities Committee and was cleared. That doesn’t stop the newspaper from releasing the article.

Desi first wants Lucy to state that she simply checked the wrong box. When she’s uncomfortable with that fib, Desi decides to meet the accusation head on, with the backing of the network. The tension mounts all week, as the cast and crew head toward the taping of the episode “Fred and Ethel Fight” before a live audience. The response of the audience likely foretells the response of the rest of the country and decides the fate of the show.

Being the Ricardos lucy
Being the Ricardos – Lucy’s voting registration threatens her career

Lucy Is Pregnant

While smoothing over Lucy’s Red Scare, the Ricardos surprise the executives and writers with an announcement: Lucy is expecting a baby. The couple already parent a young daughter, Lucie. The news of this second pregnancy is not welcomed by the executives or the story writers, Jess (Hale), Alia (Pugh) and Bob (Lacy).

In the 1950s the word “pregnancy” cannot even be spoken on a television show. The show writers scramble to come up with ways to hide Lucy’s pregnancy behind props and carefully planned camera shots. To their dismay, Desi proposes a different idea…make the pregnancy part of the show.

Desi and Lucy stand united in making their personal story Lucy and Ricky’s story as well. And Desi is willing to take his demands to the top studio executives.

Being the Ricardos on set
Being the Ricardos – fighting to make Lucy’s pregnancy part of the show

Is Desi Cheating?

During a week already fraught with challenges arises one that does more than threaten careers or the television show. A tabloid photo of Desi with another woman threatens the couple’s marriage.

Although it turns out that the photo is an old one, taken at an event with both Lucy and Desi in attendance, old insecurities trouble America’s favorite red head. Desi often comes home late, after performing with his band. Or he does not come home at all. Desi and Lucy rarely spend time together, other than on set or at the Desilu Productions Company they co-own.

Lucy turns to her co-stars, William Frawley (Simmons), who plays grouchy Fred in the series and Vivian Vance (Arianda), who portrays Ethel. Although Frawley drinks too much, and takes delight in arguing with Vivian, he cares about Lucy and Desi. And a tendency to compete with her co-star aside, Vivian is Lucy’s friend. “Help me save my marriage,” Lucy quietly pleads to them.

All three challenges come to a head at the end of the week as an audience gathers for the filming of the I Love Lucy episode, Fred and Ethel Fight.

Being the Ricardos fred and ethel
Being the Ricardos – Fred and Ethel

My Thoughts on Being the Ricardos

This beautifully created documentary style film gives an emotional peek behind the scenes of I Love Lucy…and into the lives of its two stars.

I felt like I learned new things about both Desi and Lucy. She is portrayed, accurately so, as brilliant, creative and a perfectionist in her work. There’s a huge difference between Lucy in the show…and Lucille Ball. Her style of kinesthetic comedy provides the slap stick humor that made the show so appealing to viewers. Lucille however is more quiet, intentional, introspective and demanding of herself and others than her tv counterpart. I can appreciate the woman behind one of the most successful series of all times.

And Desi truly is the one with the drive, passion and knowledge to bring the show and technology into new territory. Bardem and Kidman superbly step into their roles and deserve their Oscar nominations.

I appreciate too, the deeper glimpses into Frawley and Vance. I knew they did not exactly like each other, on set. However, their support of Lucy and Desi is endearing.

I loved too seeing the process of scenes coming together that I remember from my childhood.

Being the Ricardos wine making
Being the Ricardos – a familiar scene

Home

Perhaps the most poignant part of this movie, for me, is Lucy’s desire to have a home. A traumatic childhood and years of struggling as a B movie actress create a deep longing for a happy oasis where she and Desi can raise their family and insulate themselves from the world.

That desire shapes all that Lucy does…even to insisting on doing I Love Lucy with her real life husband rather than a more well known actor. I confess to teary eyes when Lucy finally realizes where home truly exists and the cost of maintaining it.

See this movie, if you grew up watching I Love Lucy. It’s currently playing on Amazon Prime, free for Prime members. Click LINK for film. I’d love to know your thoughts about it!

Being the Ricardos i love lucy

Check out my movie review of The Power of the Dog. It picked up 12 Oscar nominations.

Not an Amazon Prime member? Get a 30 day free trial HERE.

 

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The Power of the Dog

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It’s award season for movies. On February 8 nominees are announced for the 94th Academy Awards. In preparation, I’m watching the top picked films that may receive the honor of a nomination.

One film, The Power of the Dog, is a stand out already. This Netflix film has garnered a staggering 262 nominations and 183 wins, in a variety of movie categories and award platforms. Those stats placed it high on my “must watch” list.

Check out my movie review and my thoughts about this slow burn drama. No spoilers included.

The Power of the Dog title meme

The Power of the Dog Cast

This western…and I use that term loosely…stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Durnst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Jane Campion wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Thomas Savage. She directed the film as well.

The Power of the Dog carries an R rating, for sexuality, smoking and mild alcohol use and language. It has a run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Two Brothers

In 1925 Montana, brothers Phil (Cumberbatch) and George (Plemons) carry on managing the ranch, after their elderly parents return to the east to live.

The wealthy brothers share the austere family home, little changed since their childhood, which suits Phil fine. As the elder brother, Phil runs the ranch, inspiring fear and awe in the hired cowboys, and controls his younger sibling. He is rugged and unkept, bathing infrequently in the river, with a severe type of charisma that both attracts and repels others.

While he seldom shows appreciation for anyone else, Phil idolizes the mentor from his youth, Bronco Henry. Not a day goes by on the ranch that Phil doesn’t share a larger than life story about the now dead cowboy.

George lives in his brother’s shadow. Thoughtful, quiet and more refined, he allows Phil to make all of the decisions. And when his brother treats others cruelly, George surreptitiously does his best to smooth over the situation.

That’s how George meets his wife.

The Power of the Dog phil
The Power of the Dog – Phil. played by Benedict Cumberbatch
The Power of the Dog george
The Power of the Dog – George, played by Jesse Plemons

A Mother and Her Son

After driving cattle to a nearby town, Phil, George and the cowboys dine at the local inn. Rose (Durst), widowed with a teenage son, prepares the meal. Peter (Smit-McPhee), a gentle, artistic young man, helps his mother out by serving the rowdy guests. Phil’s taunts and jeers, egged on by the cowboys, brings tears from Rose and Peter.

George stays behind, after dinner, to comfort Rose. That quiet show of tenderness leads to frequent visits, by George, to see Rose. By the time Phil realizes where George is going, and seeks to dissuade him from pursuing Rose, it’s too late. George and Rose married, without Phil’s knowledge or consent.

The somewhat downcast Peter goes away to school, to study medicine. Rose joins her new husband and brother-in-law at the ranch.

The Power of the Dog rose
The Power of the Dog – Rose, played by Kirsten Dunst
The Power of the Dog peter
The Power of the Dog – Peter, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee

A Hellish Summer

Phil strongly dislikes Rose and what he sees as a disruption to his routines and his life. He rebuffs all of her attempts to merge into his family, making her feel unwelcome and unworthy. Rose’s despondency deepens, made worse when her son Peter arrives at the ranch during summer break.

Phil’s taunting now focuses primarily on Peter, who is unaccustomed to ranch life. The young man spends most of his time in his room, studying medical books and performing dissections on field rabbits that he catches.

And then, unexpectedly, Phil softens toward Peter, teaching the boy how to ride a horse and work on the ranch. He shares Bronco Henry tales, hand plaits a rawhide rope for Peter and for the first time, opens up about his own youth.

The sudden friendship between Phil and Peter does nothing to soothe Rose. In fact, she seeks ways to hurt the man she so despises. Is Phil truly changing and becoming more vulnerable? Or is something else going on?

The Power of the Dog love
The Power of the Dog – is love enough?

My Thoughts About The Power of the Dog

I’m not a huge fan of westerns. However, to my delight, The Power of the Dog is less a western than a subtly played out drama. While there are cowboys and a ranch and incredible vistas, the story focuses on the complicated relationships between Phil and George, Phil and Rose and Phil and Peter.

Phil is the central character and he is one angry, manipulative man. And yet, as much as I disliked his cruelty, I first pitied him and then felt unexpected compassion for all that he kept painfully hidden in his life.

There’s a youngness to Phil that hints that he became trapped in his youth…and never grew beyond it. As adults, he and George still share a room, sleeping in twin beds, but sharing space as they did in their childhood. He dislikes bathing, makes up his own rules, resorts to name calling and taunting and rejects outsiders. Rather than share who he is or what he has, he chooses to destroy so others can’t have it.

All four primary actors give outstanding performances. Benedict Cumberbatch should pick up a Best Actor Oscar.

And Jane Campion excellently builds out this complex story. She reveals, layer by layer, until the end brings a surprising twist that immediately made me think, “Now I need to watch it all again.” That’s the power of this film. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I’ll watch the Oscars, fully expecting this movie to pick up multiple awards. Have you seen The Power of the Dog? What did you think?

The Power of the Dog ranch

 

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Road to the Lemon Grove

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A couple of months ago, I received info about a film set in Italy. I had opportunities to watch clips and listen in on interviews. I knew this film would go onto my “watch list” as soon as it became available. Perhaps because of my trip to Italy or perhaps because of the soulful journey in the story, I felt drawn to see Road to the Lemon Grove.

Now available for rent or purchase, I spent an afternoon viewing this comedy/drama. And I was right to anticipate it. I enjoyed this movie!

Road to the Lemon Road title meme

Road to the Lemon Grove Cast

The cast of Road to the Lemon Grove includes Burt Young, Rossella Brescia, Nick Mancuso and Charly Chiarelli.

Dale Hildebrand directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Chiarelli.

The film is unrated (I give it a PG-13 for mild language and brief nudity) and has a run time of 1 hour and 28 minutes.

Road to the Lemon Grove Calogero
Road to the Lemon Grove – Calogero Contatini

The Journey Home

Antonio Contatini (dual role by Chiarelli) stands before heaven’s gates, impatient for admittance. To his consternation, the old man discovers that his mission on Earth isn’t quite finished.

Before he can enter heaven, Antonio must make amends with his son, Calogero (also Chiarelli) and help settle a long running feud in the family. This mission proves difficult, as Calogero doesn’t want anything to do with his father, dead or alive. He wants his father’s spirit to leave him alone.

And Calogero, who is a university professor teaching linguistics, is just as cautious with his late mother’s side of the family. With Antonio gone, Calogero’s uncle Vincent (Young) and the rest of his mother’s family plot to take the lemon grove that they all left behind when they moved from Sicily, Italy.

Antonio lures Calogero back to Sicily, making his son promise to scatter his ashes in the lemon grove.

Road to the Lemon Grove ashes
Road to the Lemon Grove – father’s ashes

Love and Redemption Italian Style

Calogero reluctantly takes his father’s ashes to Sicily. He left Italy with his parents as a baby. His parents never returned home and Calogero experiences Italy for the first time.

As he drives to the tiny town where relatives on both sides of his family still live, he is struck by the beauty of his home country. He pauses to swim in the Mediterranean and thoughtfully walk along narrow streets in small villages. Calogero even bumps into his Italian movie star crush, Maria (Brescia). His ghostly father tries to set the two up, thinking it will make his son happy. The results are hilariously disastrous. However, Calogero and Maria become friends and she accompanies him to scatter the ashes in the lemon grove.

As Calogero travels deeper into the heart and soul of his homeland, Vincent’s son, Guido (Mancuso), arrives to prevent his cousin from claiming the inheritance. Vincent wants the grove and intends sell it. He isn’t afraid to use any means necessary to do so.

The final family confrontation comes down to an elaborate Italian meal and a walk to the lemon grove, where miracles sometimes happen.

Road to the Lemon Grove supper
Road to the Lemon Grove – sharing a meal

My Thoughts on Road to the Lemon Grove

I enjoyed this humorous film. At first it seemed LOUD to me, the way the Italian characters are portrayed. However, I quickly settled into the flow of the story and came to appreciate the intense dialogue and hand gesturing.

I love that Calogero’s classroom teachings about language and culture weave into the storyline, with reminders that America is built on the backs of immigrants from many countries, including Italy. And I savored the Italian landscapes, village streets and structures. There is such beauty throughout Italy. When I visited, we didn’t make it as far south as Sicily. I’d love to experience that region someday.

There are important messages shared in Road to the Lemon Grove, about family, love, culture, forgiveness and redemption. I noticed that as Calogero progresses closer to his family’s home village, he literally sheds his western clothes and persona. After stepping naked into the Mediterranean, he emerges reborn. He leaves most of his clothes behind…the overcoat, suit jacket and tie…traveling onward in a simple shirt and trousers. I love the symbolism.

Road to the Lemon Grove Calogero and Maria
Road to the Lemon Grove – Calogero and Maria

How to Watch This Movie

Currently Road to the Lemon Grove is available for rent or purchase on Amazon. You can get a free Amazon Prime Video trial HERE.

Rent or purchase the movie through this LINK.

And Road to the Lemon Grove is also available to rent on iTunes.

If you watch this warm, funny, soulful film, let me know what you think!

You might also enjoy this review of Emma and this one, Where’d You Go Bernadette.

Movie Poster

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In The Heights

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How exciting, as movie theaters open back up, to experience a fun summer musical! I had the opportunity to attend a virtual screening for In The Heights ahead of its release date. This movie, though, deserves a big screen viewing!

I happily returned to my local theater, for the first time in over a year, for the thrill of watching this amazing musical as it’s meant to be watched.

Check out my review for In The Heights and then enjoy the first big hit of the summer in a theater near you.

In The Heights title meme

In The Heights Cast

This film version of the Broadway musical stars Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Berrara, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In The Heights is directed by Jon M. Chu. The screenplay is based on the musical and music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Quiara Alegria Hudes contributed to the concept and the screenplay.

The musical carries a PG-13 rating, for mild language and suggestive references, and has a run time of 2 hours and 23 minutes.

In The Heights dance
In The Heights – get ready to dance!

In The Heights Synopsis

The movie focuses on the lives of a variety of people living in northern Manhattan. Washington Heights, referred to simply as “The Heights”, contains small mom and pop shops, thriving and struggling businesses and generations of families.

Dreams of all kinds thrive in this close knit community too. Meet the dreamers and those who encourage them.

Usnavi

At the heart of The Heights is Usnavi (Ramos), who runs a little neighborhood bodega. Everyone in the community stops by every morning for coffee and perhaps a lottery ticket. Usnavi sells both while offering encouraging words of advice.

Usnavi nurtures a sueñito, a little dream he’s carried since his childhood. He dreams of purchasing and reviving his deceased father’s beach café in Dominican Republic. After saving and scrimping for years, it seems that Usnavi’s dream is finally within reach.

Usnavi’s younger cousin, Sonny (Diaz IV), helps in the bodega and pushes his cousin to ask Vanessa out. Sonny dreams of going to college, a difficult sueñito to fulfill as his family cannot afford it and the boy is an undocumented immigrant.

In The Heights Usnavi
In The Heights – Usnavi and Vanessa

Vanessa

Vanessa (Barrera), is Usnavi’s love interest, although she doesn’t know that. She works at the neighborhood salon. However the salon is relocating to the Bronx, due to increasing rent. Vanessa’s sueñito is to rent her own apartment downtown and become a fashion designer.

Her dream gets an immediate setback when her application for the apartment is denied, due to a lack of credit.

Kevin Rosario and His Daughter Nina

Kevin (Smits) owns and operates the neighborhood taxi company. He employs Benny (Hawkins). Nina (Grace) returns home from her first year at Stanford. She is fulfilling her father’s dream. However, Nina comes home to tell him that she’s dropping out of college due to loneliness and financial strains. Nina misses The Heights and feels out of place at Stanford.

Kevin sold off half of the building he owns, to pay for Nina’s college education. He is not easily deterred from seeing his daughter graduate from Stanford.

Benny loves Nina. With him, Nina finds life simpler. However, she worries about the future and struggles with self doubt. Benny reminds her of what’s important and tells her that she is destined for greatness.

In The Heights Benny, Nina and Kevin
In The Heights – Benny, Nina and Kevin

Abuela Claudia

The matriarch of the neighborhood, Abuela (Merediz) took Usnavi in as a boy and raised him. While not actually related to him, this kind and wise woman serves as his… and everyone’s…abuela. She remembers her childhood in Cuba, where she and her mother lived in poverty.

In New York, Claudia endured hardships and overcame challenges to get to where she is today. Her role is to encourage everyone else to pursue their dreams and never give up. Abuela’s favorite words are “paciencia y fe”…”patience and faith”.

In The Heights Abuela
In The Heights – the matriarch, Abuela Claudia

A Summer to Remember

In The Heights, summer brings record breaking temperatures. The whole neighborhood closes down early one day and everyone heads to the community pool to cool off.

On the way there, Usnavi learns that one of the lottery tickets the bodega sold won $96,000. When he shares the exciting news, the whole neighborhood goes wild, each person imaging what he or she could do with that money.

The heat continues. Mr. Piraguero (Miranda), who sells snow cones, sadly sings about how the new ice cream truck in the neighborhood is stealing his business.

A black out occurs, due to the extreme heat, and the whole neighborhood shuts down for days. It’s a breaking point for some…and a time of shift and change for others…and a time for making dreams come true for a few, in unexpected ways.

Summer In The Heights
Hot summer In The Heights

My Thoughts About In The Heights

As stated, this movie is a musical, which is one of my favorite genres. The characters sing much of the dialogue. And they dance too!

I love this musical. It beautifully showcases the richness of the Latin culture through music and dance. And it shines a brilliant light on the importance of family, community and encouraging one another toward the realization of dreams.

Those themes thrill me. As a dreamer myself, I love watching the different characters discover more about who they are as dreams shift, change and manifest. I appreciate the closeness of the community and how generations of people pave the way for each new generation.

This is such a fun film. I can’t help but smile and tap my foot over the musical numbers.  The movie goers in my theater applauded with me at the end.

We all have dreams. The time has come. Let In The Heights inspire you to keep pursuing yours. Catch it at your local theater or on HBOMax.

Time Has Come

Did you enjoy this review? Check out this one too: Nomadland

Get the In The Heights movie soundtrack HERE.

 

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Nomadland

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The Academy Awards aired last night, April 25, two months later than normal. And as I have since my toddler days, I watched with rapt attention as Oscars were handed out.

My intention to write a review for the winner of the Best Picture category involved some faith. This year, due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the film industry because of COVID, I saw six of the nine nominated movies. Typically I watch all of them. With theater closures and most of the films on different streaming services, I felt fortunate to see six of them!

Happily Nomadland, the Oscar winner, ranked among the films I viewed.

Nomadland title meme

Nomadland Cast

Nomadland stars Frances McDormand and David Strathairn. Most of the rest of the cast, including Linda May, Bob Wells and Charlene Swankie, are actual nomads or locals.

This drama is based on the non-fiction book by the same name, written by Jessica Bruder. Director Chloe Zhao also wrote the screenplay. The film carries an R rating, for mild adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Nomadland received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography. It won for Best Picture, Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Director (Zhao).

Becoming a Nomad

Fern (McDormand), a woman in her 60s, finds herself without a home. Following the death of her husband and the economic collapse of the company town they lived in, Fern stays in the tract house they shared, until she’s forced out.

With no place to go, Fern stores most of her belongings, purchases a second hand van and embarks on a journey. She travels from state to state, town to town, looking for employment. Fern lives life on the fringes of society, a nomad without roots.

Nomadland on the road

Nomadland nomads
Nomadland – friends and nomads, Fern and Linda May

Finding Community

While working a seasonal job at an Amazon fulfillment center, Fern befriends Linda May, a nomad who invites her to a desert gathering. There Fern meets Dave (Strathairn), a fellow traveler, and Bob Wells, who provides a support system and a community for nomads.

This group of sincere and self reliant souls teach Fern survival skills and rules for the road. No one in the group stays in one place for long. Soon it’s just Fern and an older woman named Swankie left in the desert campsite.

The two women develop a friendship as Swankie teaches Fern more self sufficiency skills. Before she too hits the road again, Swankie reveals that she has cancer. However, she assures Fern that she’s lived a good life, traveling the country. The sights she’s seen and the experiences she embraced make her feel like she’s done enough. Her life is complete.

Nomadland swankie
Nomadland – Swankie

The Nomad Life

At her next job, as camp host at an RV park with Linda May, Fern reconnects with Dave. The two find their relationship comforting, if a bit awkward at times.

Through long conversations, Fern convinces Dave to visit his son, and meet his daughter-in-law and new grandson. Although Dave invites Fern to accompany him, she refuses. The two part ways.

When her rusty old van breaks down, requiring funds for repairs, Fern is forced to visit her own family. Her sister and brother-in-law live very different lives. To an observer, Fern’s family is successful and well situated. To Fern, after a year of the nomad life, her sister’s life is stifling. The time spent in her sister’s cozy home creates a longing, however, for connection. Is she missing out by constantly moving from location to location and spending so much time alone?

Fern accepts an invitation to spend the holidays with Dave and his family. It’s a lovely time with good people. However, is she ready to settle into a “normal” life? Or is the call of the open road too strong?

Nomadland friends
Nomadland – Fern and Dave

My Thoughts About Nomadland

Initially, I felt drawn to this film because of the nomad lifestyle. Who hasn’t dreamed of taking off in an outfitted van, to explore the country? I actually follow several #vanlife accounts on Instagram and the photos they share of their adventures are inspiring. The beauty of that nomadic lifestyle creates a longing in me.

What Nomadland shows is the other side of such a lifestyle. For some, the nomadic life is forced upon them. Those individuals find it cheaper to live on the road and in free campsites rather than in traditional homes. Some older adults discover they can’t survive on monthly social security checks. Instead, they travel from job opportunity to job opportunity, working for a season and then moving on, for as long as they are able to.

Nomadland highlights a different kind of beauty, a stark one, found in solitude and community, living simply and sharing what you have. The nomads don’t post glamourous photos. They survive, one day at a time. And they help each other whenever they “meet down the road”. There’s rawness in the nomadic lifestyle, as portrayed in this film, along with courage and honesty.

Deserving of the Oscar Win

Does Nomadland deserve the Oscar for Best Picture? Yes, I believe it does even though I feel like The Father was deserving too, for very different reasons.

Therefore, see both movies. Let them unsettle you, stir your compassion and open your eyes to different realities. Let the struggles that others endure shift your perspectives and broaden your views. Both films did that for me.

If you’ve seen Nomadland, let me know your thoughts about the movie, in the comments below!

Nomadland - travel

Going Farther

Pick up a copy of the book by Jessica Bruder HERE.

Or purchase the movie, as a download, with this LINK.

Nomadland is also showing in select theaters across the US.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

The Father

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

It’s one of my favorite times of year…award season! The Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards presented their top picks in cinema. The Academy Awards air at the end of the month, on April 25.

Although it’s been anything but a typical year for the movie industry, I’m following my usual practice of watching the Best Nominated Films ahead of the Oscars. What a sweet joy to view The Father at Bookhouse Cinema recently, rather than at home on a streaming service. I loved the experience, which felt amazing after viewing only two films at a theater last year.

The darkened theater experience, combined with the incredibly moving story of this film, deeply impacted me. I’m still thinking about this movie.

This is the Best Picture Nominated film, The Father.

The Father title meme

The Father Cast

This drama stars Anthony Hopkins, Oliva Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Rufus Sewell. The Father, which has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes, is directed by Florian Zeller and carries a PG-13 rating for occasional strong language and adult themes.

The Father earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hopkins, Best Supporting Actress for Colman, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Production Design.

The Father argument
Father and daughter trying to understand each other, in The Father.

The Father Storyline

Anthony (Hopkins), an 84 year old man, lives alone in his beautiful London flat. His daughter Anne (Colman) works and enjoys her independent life while stopping by frequently to check on her father.

However, the frequency of her visits increases as first one and then another of her father’s caretakers quit. Anthony doesn’t believe he needs assistance. Unconvinced, Anne notes that her father sometimes appears confused or forgetful. Daily, it seems, Anthony misplaces his watch, then accuses one of the caretakers of stealing it.

Anthony oscillates between confusion one moment and belligerence about giving up his flat the next, leading Anne to make the difficult decision to move him into her place.

The Father Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins as the father.
The Father Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman as the daughter.

A Confusing World

Although Anne spends more time with her father, due to his close proximity, Anthony’s perception of reality continues to deteriorate.

He finds it difficult to sort out timelines. To him, Anne appears younger some days and older others. Strangers appear in the flat and just as quickly disappear. One minute Anne tells him she’s moving to Paris, to live with her new boyfriend  Paul (Sewell). The next, Anne’s husband James (Gatiss) appears in the front parlor, even though she claims they divorced five years ago.

Realizing she needs help, Anne hires Laura (Poots), to stay with her father during the day. When Anthony meets her, he’s struck by her resemblance to his younger daughter, Lucy (also Poots). It causes him to wonder why Lucy never visits him. He charms Laura, dancing and engaging in witty conversation, leaving Anne smiling and yet confused herself about his condition.

A doctor confirms Anne’s fears. Her father’s episodes of confusion signal the onset of dementia.

For Anthony, who insists his memory is fine, the world becomes increasingly small, confined within the walls of a flat that might be his…or might be Anne’s. And the people living with him…is this his daughter Anne? And his son-in-law? Or is that man his daughter’s boyfriend? And where is his other daughter, Lucy? Doesn’t Laura look just like Lucy?

And where, oh where, is his watch??

The Father charming Laura
The father charming Laura.
The Father telling stories
When you don’t remember details…make them up!

My Thoughts on The Father

This film had such a strong effect on me. Perhaps it’s because Greg’s mother died of Alzheimer’s and we lost her, bit by bit, long before her body wore out. Or perhaps it’s because Anthony Hopkins physically reminds me of Greg’s dad, who joined his dear wife almost six years ago. And then, my own father’s death anniversary popped up March 30…gone 11 years now. Or maybe it’s because I’m in my 60s now and cringe every time I suddenly forget a name.

The subject of dementia is a scary one for most people. And you’d expect a film about that devastating illness to be dark and depressing. It is a heavy subject, undoubtedly. However, I’m so grateful for this outstanding film.

The Father confusion
The world becomes so confusing, in The Father.

My Favorite Best Picture Film So Far

Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman both deserve their Oscar nominations. I felt completely undone by both performances, so much so that I sat quietly in my car after the movie and just felt all the emotions. And the emotions were many.

I laughed at times, delighted by Anthony’s charm, and I teared up, sympathetic to Anne’s pain and fear as her “Little Daddy” slipped away from her. Oft times, my body responded physically to what unfolded on the screen, feeling gut punched and breathless.

The Father is beautiful, edgy, difficult to watch and impossible to look away from.  Plus, it is unbelievably clever. This is the most intriguing film I’ve ever seen, about dementia. Anthony’s perspective on his confusing and ever shifting world instills in the viewer empathy and compassion for those in the grips of this horrible disease. The Father not only changes the way I perceive those with memory issues, it changes the way I respond to them.

See The Father. If you’ve ever known someone with dementia, or currently care for a loved one with this disorder, spend 97 minutes with this film. Allow it to upend your views and open your mind and soften your heart. And cry. Weep for those whose realities no longer make sense. Then offer them patience and unconditional love.

The Father daughter and little daddy
The father and his daughter.

Watch The Father at select theaters, or rent on Amazon Prime HERE.

Did you enjoy this review? Check out my review of the Bridgerton series!

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Movie Review Enola Holmes

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I’m grateful this year for streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and CBS All Access. Thanks to them, I’m able to watch fresh films and series. Recently I enjoyed watching Enola Holmes, a very fresh film indeed with a connection to familiar characters.

Playful and clever, with mysteries to solve, the movie delights and offers important life lessons, especially for girls.

Check out my spoiler free movie review for Enola Holmes.

Movie Review Enola Holmes title meme

Enola Holmes Cast

This Netflix original movie stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma and Fiona Shaw.

Harry Bradbeer directs the adventure crime drama. The film is based on the book “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery” by Nancy Springer. There are currently six books in the series.

Enola Holmes carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and some intense scenes. The run time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Movie Review Enola Holmes lessons
Movie Review Enola Holmes – unconventional lessons…in the house

Enola Holmes

It’s 1884 in England and the world is changing. One who keenly recognizes this is Enola Holmes (Brown), the much younger sister of Sherlock (Cavill) and Mycroft (Claflin). Due to the huge age gap, Enola hardly knows her brothers and her father died long ago. Raised by an intelligent, forward thinking and rather eccentric mother, Enola benefits from an unconventional education at home.

Rather than the traditional lessons in embroidery and housekeeping, Enola studies science, literature, art and self defense. She shoots an arrow better than she cooks. And Enola and her mother Eudoria (Carter) play word games and create secret codes to communicate with using a homemade decipher dial. Throughout her childhood, Enola…which is the word “alone” spelled backwards…experiences a free and playful lifestyle.

Her world shifts on the morning of her 16th birthday when Enola wakes up and discovers her mother missing. Perplexed, Enola only finds a birthday box from Eudoria containing a booklet on flowers, pencils and cards. When a week passes with no word from her mother, Enola notifies her older brothers, who journey home.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with mother
Movie Review Enola Holmes – learning self defense
Movie Review Enola Holmes Sherlock and Mycroft
Movie Review Enola Holmes – Sherlock and Mycroft

The Holmes Brothers

Mycroft Holmes is a wealthy aristocrat, working for the government. And Sherlock has earned a reputation as a brilliant detective. It’s been many years since they’ve seen their baby sister. Mycroft is horrified by her disheveled appearance and the disarray at the house, Ferndell Hall.

Mycroft sends money to Eudoria each month, for a carriage and household staff and teachers for Enola, all of which are nonexistent. As Sherlock uses his analytical skills in the house, he realizes no foul play is involved. Eudoria left freely and apparently does not intend to come back. Why, the siblings do not know.

And what to do with their young sister? Enola cannot manage the estate alone.

Mycroft, who finds his sister annoying, plans to send her to a boarding school for what he considers much needed refinement. He is her guardian, after all.

Sherlock feels more sympathy for the girl and finds her interesting and clever. However, decisions for her future are not his to make.

Mycroft sends for Miss Harrison (Shaw), the strict head mistress of Miss Harrison’s Finishing School for Young Ladies. Although Enola begs to remain at home, Mycroft makes arrangements to send her to the school.

On her last night at home, Enola discovers an encrypted message in the birthday box from her mother. Following the clues she uncovers money that her mother left for her and a note: “Our future is up to you”. Dressing as a boy, Enola runs away, boarding a train for London.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with Sherlock
Movie Review Enola Holmes – brother and sister chat

The Missing Marquess

On the train, Enola meets a boy her age when he pops out of a large travel bag. He introduces himself as Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquis of Basilweather (Partridge). He too is running away, from a family who doesn’t understand him.

Enola wants nothing to do with the young viscount…until she hears him screaming for help. She finds a man trying to kill the boy. Enola fights off the attacker and together she and Tewkesbury leap from the train.

Walking toward London, the pair of teenagers share their stories. A friendship forms between them.

Reaching their destination, they go separate ways. Enola uses the money from her mother to buy fashionable clothing and rent a room in a boarding house. She takes on the disguise of a noblewoman while looking for her mother. Enola leaves secret messages in the newspapers, for her mother, and tracks down a correspondent Eudoria wrote to often, Ethel (Wokoma). Ethel tells Enola that Eudoria does not want to be found and that she has secret…and important…work to do.

Abandoning her search, Enola discovers that Tewkesbury’s life is in danger, as is her own. Throwing caution aside, Enola goes into detective mode, to unravel where the boy is hiding and why an assailant hunts for him.

Mycroft hires Detective Lestrade (Akhtar) to locate Enola, however Sherlock uses his own sleuthing skills to hunt for his clever and elusive sister. The game is afoot! Or in this multiple level mystery, the games are on. It’s a race to see who finds whom first…and who uncovers the deeper secrets.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with the marquess
Movie Review Enola Holmes – the young viscount
Movie Review Enola Holmes siblings
Movie Review Enola Holmes – siblings

My Thoughts on Enola Holmes

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, well done film. Sherlock and Mycroft are familiar and recognizably in character however it is young Enola who dominates the story. Millie Bobby Brown, whose star is certainly rising since her role in Stranger Things, is amazing to watch as Enola.

This movie was in fact her idea. Millie and her sister Paige approached the author of the Enola Holmes series with the idea for the movie. As a result, Millie receives producer credits for the film. At age 16 she’s one of the youngest actresses to ever receive that distinction.

Enola Holmes is a powerful film for girls to watch. I love the relationship between the young detective and her mother and the unconventional way the girl was raised. And I like the growing relationship between Sherlock and his sister. Enola exhibits intelligence, resourcefulness, strength and character apart from her brothers. She knows what she wants to do…and she figures out how to do it, learning from mistakes as she goes. I laughed and smiled and teared up a few times.

Intending to recommend the movie to my almost 12 year old granddaughter, I discovered when I mentioned it that she’d already watched it. She loved it too. Aubrey enjoyed the mysteries and the clues and liked the young viscount’s friendship with Enola. I had fun discussing the movie with her. We both hope the other five books in the series become sequels to this first successful film. Enola Holmes leaves that possibility wide open.

Have you seen Enola Holmes yet, on Netflix? What did you think?

Movie Review Enola Holmes poster

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